Today’s Independent runs a front-page story, The Last Briton in Guantánamo faces death penalty, focusing on the plight of British resident Binyam Mohamed. Seized in Pakistan in April 2002, Binyam was subsequently rendered to Morocco, where proxy torturers, working on behalf of the Americans, tortured him for 18 months, in interrogation sessions that included regularly cutting his penis with a razor blade. He was then transferred to the “Dark Prison,” a secret CIA prison near Kabul, modelled on a medieval torture dungeon, but with the addition of ear-splitting music and noise, which was blasted into the cells for 24 hours a day, and finally arrived in Guantánamo in September 2004.
In November 2005, Binyam was put forward for trial by Military Commission –- a novel system of trials for “terror suspects,” invented by Vice President Dick Cheney and his advisers in November 2001 –- but in June 2006, after one farcical episode in front of a judge, which ended up with Binyam holding up a sign declaring that the “Commissions” were “Con-missions” instead, the entire system was ruled illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Commissions were revived later that year, when Congress passed the Military Commissions Act, and it is expected that Binyam will imminently face charges under this second version of the “Con-missions,” even though they have yet to demonstrate that they can actually function, and even though Binyam and his lawyers at Reprieve, the legal action charity that works on behalf of over 30 prisoners in Guantánamo, have always maintained that not a shred of evidence of Binyam’s alleged involvement in a bomb plot conceived with various senior al-Qaeda figures was produced without the use of torture.
The Independent’s article featured excerpts from a letter to Prime Minster Gordon Brown, which was dictated by Binyam to his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, the director of Reprieve, during a visit at Guantánamo last week. Below is the full text of the letter, which was delivered to 10 Downing Street yesterday.
Note that Binyam’s mention of the intervention of the British government refers to the government’s request for the return of five British residents –- including Binyam –- last August. Although three residents were subsequently returned (in December), he was not one of them, as the US authorities refused to release him. His mention of the Treasury Solicitors refers to a recent lawsuit filed by Reprieve and solicitors at Leigh Day demanding that the government release any information they have regarding British knowledge of Binyam’s rendition to Morocco, and any information that was provided to US intelligence.
Thursday, May 22nd 2008
Dear Prime Minister Brown,
I have been held without trial by the U.S. for 6 years, 1 month & 12 days. That is 2,234 days (very long days, and often longer nights). Of this, about 550 days were in a torture chamber in Morocco, and about 150 in the “Dark Prison” in Kabul. Still there is no end in sight, no prospect of a fair trial.
Because I am a Londoner, your government states publicly that you support my right to return home there as soon as possible. I am grateful for that. I always viewed Britain as the country that stood up for human rights more than any other. That was why I came to Britain as a refugee.
Before the intervention of your government to help me, I was more resigned to my fate, to be held forever without a fair trial. When your government intervened I had hope. But it has been a cruel hope. Nine months later I am still here, no closer to home, still in this terrible prison.
When I learned that my Moroccan torturers were using information supplied by British intelligence, I felt deeply betrayed. When I learned that your government’s lawyers (the Treasury Solicitors) had told my lawyers they had no duty to help prove my innocence, or even that I had been tortured, I felt betrayed again.
It is long past time to end this matter. I have been next to committing suicide this past while. That would be one way to end it, I suppose.
Andy is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.
As published on Indymedia.
For a sequence of articles relating to Binyam Mohamed, see the following: Guantánamo: Torture victim Binyam Mohamed sues British government for evidence (May 2008), Guantánamo trials: critical judge sacked, British torture victim charged (June 2008), Binyam Mohamed: UK court grants judicial review over torture allegations, as US files official charges (June 2008), Binyam Mohamed’s judicial review: judges grill British agent and question fairness of Guantánamo trials (August 2008), High Court rules against UK and US in case of Guantánamo torture victim Binyam Mohamed (August 2008), In a plea from Guantánamo, Binyam Mohamed talks of “betrayal” by the UK (September 2008), US Justice Department drops “dirty bomb plot” allegation against Binyam Mohamed (October 2008), Meltdown at the Guantánamo Trials (October 2008), Guilt By Torture: Binyam Mohamed’s Transatlantic Quest for Justice (November 2008), A History of Music Torture in the “War on Terror” (December 2008), Is Robert Gates Guilty of Perjury in Guantánamo Torture Case? (December 2008), British torture victim Binyam Mohamed to be released from Guantánamo (January 2009), Don’t Forget Guantánamo (February 2009), The betrayal of British torture victim Binyam Mohamed (February 2009), Hiding Torture And Freeing Binyam Mohamed From Guantánamo (February 2009), Binyam Mohamed’s Coming Home From Guantánamo, As Torture Allegations Mount (February 2009), Binyam Mohamed’s statement on his release from Guantánamo (February 2009), Who Is Binyam Mohamed, the British resident released from Guantánamo? (February 2009), Seven Years of Torture: Binyam Mohamed Tells His Story (March 2009), Binyam Mohamed’s Plea Bargain: Trading Torture For Freedom (March 2009), Guantánamo, Bagram and the “Dark Prison”: Binyam Mohamed talks to Moazzam Begg (March 2009), Obama’s First 100 Days: Mixed Messages On Torture (includes the Jeppesen lawsuit, May 2009), UK Government Lies Exposed; Spy Visited Binyam Mohamed In Morocco (May 2009), Daily Mail Pulls Story About Binyam Mohamed And British Spy (May 2009), Government Bans Testimony On Binyam Mohamed And The British Spy (May 2009), More twists in the tale of Binyam Mohamed (in the Guardian, May 2009), Did Hillary Clinton Threaten UK Over Binyam Mohamed Torture Disclosure? (May 2009), Outsourcing torture to foreign climes (in the Guardian, May 2009), Binyam Mohamed: Was Muhammad Salih’s Death In Guantánamo Suicide? (June 2009), Miliband Shows Leadership, Reveals Nothing About Torture To Parliamentary Committee (June 2009).
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
Email Andy Worthington
Please support Andy Worthington, independent journalist: